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Subject: Citizens of Earth, Do You Have What It Takes? rss

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Mike Halekakis
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Introductory Press Release
Citizens! Do you have what it takes to help humanity take the next step forward in its evolution? Do you have the grit, the smarts, and the moxie to help colonize a new world? For hundreds of years mankind has dreamed of achieving such an incredible feat, and now through the miracles and wonders of the modern age that dream is finally becoming a reality!

Even now brave adventurers not unlike yourselves are boarding state of the art rocket ships bound for the alien landscape of Mars, there to stake claim to the myriad riches that lie just under the surface of this strange planet. Help push mankind into a new golden age! Contact the Mars Consortium Mining Company to start your training program right away! Fame, glory, and fortune await!


Note, the MCMC is not responsible for loss of life or limb as a result of travel to and/or inhabitation of the red planet.




A Bit Less Silly Introduction
I have always had a deep love for classic science fiction writing and iconography, as evidenced by the twin rocket ships I have tattooed on my arms. I guess It goes without saying then that Mission: Red Planet was a theme come true for this particular gamer. Typically I’ll do some research before I jump into any purchase, reading reviews here on the geek, listening to the thoughts of gaming podcasters, or playing a buddy’s copy before rushing out and grabbing is myself. Not so with this sweet baby—it was the very definition of a MUST HAVE GIMME GIMME GIMME, and thank the stars it turned out to be an awesome game. Read on to find out why this wanna-be space captain enjoys taking the trip to Mars.


Surfin’ on a Rocket
Mission: Red Planet is a game for three to five brave adventures designed by a couple of Brunos with excellent track records. If you’ve played Citadels then you would have easily guessed that one such Bruno was Bruno Faidutti, as both games share his wonderfully flavorful and original character selection mechanic. At its heart though Mission: Red Planet is a territory control game, with players vying to have the most astronauts of their color in various regions of Mars, earning victory points by mining the resources they’ll find there. How does one get these astronauts to Mars you ask? They board rockets, of course!

The game comes with two playing boards, one depicting Mars and its various regions, the other depicting a launching pad where up to five rocket ships will be placed, depending on the number of players.

Each rocket will have a number indicating the number of astronauts that it can hold, as well as a location indicating where it will land on Mars. When a rocket is full, off it goes! At the end of the round it will land and deposit the stupi…err, brave astronauts (represented by wooden discs) to the given location, assuming of course that the rocket isn’t somehow destroyed or re-routed before landing. The ships themselves are represented by nice chunky tiles, worthy of any Jules Verne fan’s adoration.

Each round you will choose a character card which will allow you to perform some action that turn, including placing one or more astronauts on a ship, moving astronauts that are already on Mars, forcing the launch of a ship, killing other players astronauts, changing the destination of a given ship, etc. All players will have the same character cards, and each card will have a number printed on it from one to nine, used to determine playing order for the given round. The characters are gorgeously illustrated and match the flavor and theme of the game perfectly. In this humble reviewers opinion, more games should have illustrations of bulldogs with glass space helmets, but hey, maybe that’s just me.
 

When an astronaut lands on a new location of Mars a resource marker will be drawn at random, determining the potential victory point value for that area. There are scoring rounds, similar to El Grande, that award points to players with the most wooden bits in given areas. At the end of the tenth round, whoever has the most points is the space winner!

The game is flavored even further with the addition of Event cards in two types--Discovery cards and Bonus cards. Discovery cards can be placed face down by players on the various zones of Mars, while Bonus Cards are held in a players hands until the end of the game. Both the Discovery and Bonus cards potentially add additional points at the end of the final round. For some, these cards will likely be a source of frustration as they can greatly influence the outcome of the game right at the very end. For my own part, I think the events add nice extra incentives and sub-strategies, forcing players to do things that might seem wholly unintuitive to the people they’re playing with.
 

Which brings me to the part of the game that some will likely find infuriating. After several plays of Mission: Red Planet, I have found the game to have a pretty high chaos factor, meaning that strategies and best laid plans are often smashed and scattered like so many atoms. If you can relax into this element of the game then there is a ton of fun to be had, but relax you must. If you have problems with take-that mechanics, oodles of imperfect information, and the need to change tactics frequently based on the latest madness in the game, then you may want to take your hard earned space dollars elsewhere.

For my own part however, I find the chaos to be a hoot. It’s not uncommon for several astronauts to get murdered or blown up, sending them to the board’s hysterical Lost in Space Memorial section.

It's hard to get too worked up anyway, as the game also has the benefit of playing fairly quickly. Most of our games have clocked in at forty-five minutes or less; amazing given everything that can happen during that short time.


Where’s the Space Beef!?
My only real complaints lie in the components area. Unfortunately my Mars board came fairly warped, and would simply not lay flat under any circumstances, even after leaving books on it for several hours. Ultimately I can live with that, but frankly it’s still pretty annoying to have to hold the corners down with weights every time I want to play. There are print errors too on the cards (see below), which doesn’t make them totally unreadable, and isn’t game-shattering, but is still pretty irritating. My other experiences with Asmodée titles have all been positive from a components perspective, so I’m not sure where the disconnect was here. If you require perfection in your pieces then you may want to wait for a reprint.


Conclusion - 8/10
I do have some pretty heavy bias here overall, I'll admit it. The rich theme of this game just fills me with ridiculous joy, managing to successfully capture the spirit and style of the classic science fiction I've been so drawn to all my life. Thankfully though there is actually a really fine game here too, one that plays quickly and is loads of fun with the right group of folks. If you have a problem with chaos in your euro-style strategy games, you may want to think twice before making a purchase, or at the very least play it elsewhere first. But if you’re a fan of Jules Verne, Flash Gordon, and whatever it is your grandparents might have thought the world of tomorrow could look like, then you MUST give this title a peak.

Good luck, citizens! Fame, glory, and fortune await you!
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Brandon Pennington
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Re: Citizens of Earth, Do You Have What it Takes?
great review!!!
 
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Lester Dizon
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Re: Citizens of Earth, Do You Have What it Takes?
Fun review to read.

Asmodee will send you free replacement components if you email them. I got new boards and cards mailed out the next day and at my door in less than 4 days.

Go the extra mile and get yourself some of these too: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1515539#1515539
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Chris Norwood
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I always assumed that the card misprints were intentional (like receiving a static-laden message from Earth or something...) I'll have to get some replacements, because reading the cards gets exceedingly irritating whether they were meant to be that way or not.
 
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Mike Halekakis
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lstr wrote:
Fun review to read.

Asmodee will send you free replacement components if you email them. I got new boards and cards mailed out the next day and at my door in less than 4 days.

Go the extra mile and get yourself some of these too: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1515539#1515539


Great reply! Thanks for the info, lstr. I'll be sure to send Asmodee a note and get some replacement components.

And you know, I'm glad you posted that thread about the Buck Rogers figures. I had seen that a couple weeks back and thought, "Wow, cool! I should get in on that action." I then promptly forgot all about it.
 
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